Our first “Sponsor a Book” campaign for 2009 took us to Guerrero, the home state of famed Acapulco, but also the land of some of the poorest municipalities in México. We held six King’s Day “jornadas” (events) for a total of 1,200 underprivileged children in four schools, one small community, and one boarding school, as well as two workshops for parents. Our volunteers distributed 150 toys and 4,200 sponsored books.
We have added storytelling, story comprehension, and a “question and answer” time to our program in order to help children identify and comprehend basic social values. Their answers are a colorful and sometimes sad reflection of the social problems plaguing México. These were some of their replies to the question “What is a gentleman?”
The last three answers came up everywhere we went, opening the door for us to reinforce the point and emphasize that violence should not be part of home life.
The Boarding School
We stayed overnight in a boarding school that houses 182 children (from 6 to 14 years old) from Indian families too poor to care for them. The school, located in a little mountain town, receives two dollars a day per child for food, school needs and maintenance. The buildings are 50 years old, and it seems that some of them have never been painted since they were built.
The school has a staff of 22 people (teachers, cooks, maintenance man, etc.) instead of the 45 it is supposed to have. There are no showers for the children. In a corner of the property are containers of water where the children wash themselves with dippers. The director, a young dedicated man, was rejoicing over the donation of 50 foam mattresses he had just received to replace the old ones whose protruding springs had to be wrapped in cloth to protect the children from being jabbed. We were kindly given beds for the night at the boarding school infirmary, and it was not easy to find a stretch of the mattress free of poking springs.
The staff is kind and the children are wonderful and happy. The food was good, if not plentiful. From all accounts, the children’s lot is much better at the boarding school than it would be at home. Even so, we were overwhelmed at the great need that exists for more help for this school, and were so thankful to be able to give them over 100 toys and leave each child with their own set of five books.
A dear lady we had met 200 kilometers away from the boarding school committed to securing paint and volunteers to paint the school buildings. She also enlisted the help of local government officials to install showers and do necessary repairs of the facilities. That was one of the highlights of our trip, to be able to sensitize some of the local people to the need of their community and elicit their participation.
There is a great dearth of books in public schools aside from the free textbooks given by the government. We counted 35 worn booklets for a school of 350 children. Part of our program is now to give 100 books to the library of each school we visit.
Activated Ministries, we want to send you special thanks for donating all the books that we distributed. This program would not have been possible without your cooperation. Thank you for helping us go “unto the end of the world” with a message of love, hope and values that we can leave in the hands of these needy and appreciative children. Your presence, your work and all your sacrifices go with us and reach out to each of the children through each book we give out. Thank you!